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Double standards for rabbis and politics

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I was recently asked why is it that I, as a rabbi, speak about politics at all? “Shouldn’t you only speak about Torah and Jewish topics?” I strongly agree with this sentiment. Politics in nature are divisive, and the role of religion and community is to bring people together. To understand why one needs to understand the extraordinary changes American Orthodoxy has gone through and the direction in which it is heading.

As a rabbinic student, I had the honor of being part of the Strauss Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University. One day in class, I found myself sitting through a persuasive argument on how money equals free speech, and why money in American politics–surely not a matter of consensus and without much to do with Torah or Western Thoughts–is the right thing for democracy. This was no exception. The Orthodox public sphere is so dominated by GOP politics that when we see expressions of that partisanship, we don’t think twice; it is just what part of Orthodoxy has become, and when we see any expressions in the other direction, it is shocking and alien to many.

This is why the Tikva Fund, a conservative think tank made most famous recently by inviting Ron DeSantis to explain to New York Jews why they should move to Florida or “how to combat wokeism,” is able to openly recruit students in Jewish day schools and high schools. At the same time, its equivalent on the democratic (Western) side of the spectrum could never dream of such a thing. Organizations that are affiliated with some of the most militant elements in the GOP are considered to be just mainstream normal parts of Orthodox life. This is how I got to see in an event as apolitical as Chidon Hatanach national finals, a day school father showing up with a “Let’s go Brandon” shirt, something that would never happen in the other direction. It is also why I get to see in Orthodox spaces “The Heritage Foundation” swag, an organization that advocates for committing women who have abortions to psychiatric facilities against their will and is praised by the NRA as it helps perpetuate America’s gun promiscuity, the leading cause of death among American children.........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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